The Skarstedt Gallery, Old Bond Street, is showing a modest yet drolly theatrical exhibition; ‘Interactions’ relating the works of Juan Muñoz, George Condo, and Richard Prince. The exhibition is comprised of four pieces from the three artists, with two works from Richard Prince; ‘Untitled (Two women, two men, in three-quarter profile)’, 1980, and ‘Untitled (Four women with hats)’, 1980 juxtaposed with Juan Muñoz’s sculpture ‘3 Chinese’, 1999, and George Condo’s painting ‘Interacting Figures’ 2004.
All the works share the concept of the social collective and its interaction or non-interaction; with the addition of a curatorial bent between the dialectic of the works on display; relating to each other with more than a hint of whimsy.
With Prince we have the artist’s re-photographed and cropped images from 70s advertising, highlighting the artist’s non-position in regards to his subject; Prince did not interact with his subjects as he was never present. Instead the artist cropped pre-existing images, re-focusing them. Prince’s only interaction is a conceptual one; in the re-authored image, the artist forms a relationship with the original creator of the work through appropriation.
The final effect of Prince’s presence is a group of cropped figures in perpetual disconnect; lining the walls with a sly curatorial humour and leading you to George Condo’s comical and sexualised grotesques, that are in anything but a state of disconnect.
Condo’s figures appear like Henry Moore’s sculptures having come to life in a bordello. The work incorporates both a cartoonish lightness and the weight of a Baconion horror; as the artist’s figures writhe and clunk; at once solid and ridiculous, incorporating many of Condo’s traditional tropes. The painting serves as an extreme and amusing contrast to Prince’s re- authored distance.
Residing over these works with a sense of muted conversational glee is the sculptural work ‘3 Chinese’, 1999, by Juan Muñoz; an installation of three xenophobically identical jolly bronze figures in Maoist workers attire. Muñoz‘s forms interact as a closed system; a cyclical triad of empty optimistic interactions. The artist’s work shares a relationship to Prince’s own disconnected closed system of cropped 70s figures; Muñoz‘s bodies are like a contemporary terracotta army in the midst of a vaudevillian mime. But the artist’s figures in context with the surrounding works laugh knowingly with – and at – their piers, yet with a quiet existential melancholy akin to the playwright Beckett.
Although if this modest exhibition was theatre; it would not be an absurdest tragedy, but a farce – and a wholly enjoyable one.
The Skarstedt Gallery – Interactions until 4 October
Words: Paul Black © Artlyst 2014 Photos Courtesy of Skarstedt Gallery all rights reserved